Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Here are some photos from our day!

Emily's Christmas Eve service outfit
Putting cookies out for Santa right before bed
Opening gifts on Christmas morning
Emily opening Candyland (which we played shortly after opening gifts)
Benjamin riding the car Santa left him

Benjamin (and Mommy) still sporting jammies while trying on the new vest from Grandad in NZ
Mommy sporting the new apron from Grandad in NZ (yes, I wore it and yes, I cooked)
Benjamin playing in his new tent

Jeff and Emily

Me and my girl
Me and my baby boy
The best gifts of all!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas Means...

...cookies and milk while decorating the tree and a visit to Santa!
This past weekend we bought our tree and Emily and I decorated it while Daddy kept Benjamin otherwise occupied. We did invite Benjamin to join us girls for a warm chocolate chip cookie and milk afterward, though. This is something I started doing a few years ago and hope to make it a tradition. While the cookies aren't entirely homemade (dough bought from the store), I bake them and we enjoy them after decorating. Here are a few photos of Benjamin helping Daddy get the tree just right before Em and I decorated it. I have to add a footnote here and say that we've already had at least two glass ornament casualties in the five days the tree has been up. Unlike last year when he was so tiny, someone is awfully interested in the tree this time around!

Of course I had Christmas music playing while we decorated and I loved hearing Emily sing along to every single tune, even if it meant making up the words because she had no idea what was being sung. :-) Here are a couple of photos of the kids enjoying their cookies and milk.

This morning we went to the student union on the campus where Daddy works and got to spend a few minutes visiting with Santa! Before we left the house, Emily told me she was going to give Santa a hug. I thought, "Yeah, right" as I remembered last year the only way she would get her photo taken with him was with Benjamin and I as a barrier. She did better this year, although Santa will just have to wait for his hug from her. At least she talked to him this year. She was a bit taken aback when Santa called her by name! And he knew Benjamin's and Mommy and Daddy's names, too! How did he know? Why, it's the magic of Santa (for adults only: Santa also attends our church-hee hee).

Benjamin wasn't exactly sure what to think of Santa. He didn't cry but had a perplexed, serious look on his face at all times. He was most interested in the sleigh bells Santa wore on his wrists. Here are some photos from this morning and for fun, a shot of us visiting Santa last year at this time.

Of course, Mommy couldn't be left out! I had to give Santa my wish list, too!

I just thought this was a cute shot. One night last weekend we watched The Polar Express on TV. None of us had ever seen it but I had been wanting to. So we all got in our jammies and put the kids on the couch together under a blanket. They actually stayed this way and watched the movie for probably 15 minutes!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Benjamin's First Haircut!

Today we took Benjamin for his first haircut. Not that he has tons of hair (it's really fine) but it was getting kind of long in the back and around his ears. I thought back to the first time I took Emily for a haircut. You would have thought she was being stabbed with the scissors instead of just having a haircut. Benjamin was not quite as dramatic as sister was at this age but he was equally disturbed by his first time. Daddy wanted to hold his son for this momentous occasion so I was the photographer this time. :-)

Walking with Daddy to the appointment

At this point he clearly senses something is can see it in his face

This was just getting the cape on (no cutting yet)

A few seconds later after he ripped the cape off

Daddy trying to reassure him but it was not working

Finally calming down a bit

Just giving up and letting Amanda have her way. :-)
Hopefully he'll do better next time around. He looks like such a little man now with his hair trimmed up in the back. This mommy is not sure she likes how quickly her little boy is growing up...sniff, sniff.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Three Years Ago Today

Three years ago today I met my daughter for the very first time. Talk about nervous! I had no idea what to expect and left my now husband at home. While I had my sister and niece with me, I was very much on my own with this little one.

Emily had just turned one year old the week before we met and was already walking, on table food and had a pretty fiesty personality. Good thing, as the first few days were very difficult for her. Leaving her foster family of a year and being thrust into the arms of a complete stranger is quite a bit for a 12 month old to have to deal with. However, by the end of the trip, she had decided she liked me. What a special day that I will never forget. Here are some of my favorite photos of that trip...

I love the saying on the wall of the Civil Affairs office where we met our children.

The orphanage director, me and Emily right after he carried her out and placed her in my arms.

We're both crying but for different reasons! She must be thinking, "I want a do-over! I don't want this one!" What a traumatic time it must have been for her.

Still screaming...
A break from crying but now she seemed to be in shock.

Me, my niece and sister in Tiananmen Square

My niece and I on the Great Wall! The Great Wall of China!! Amazing.

Emily with one of her most favorite people then AND now...cousin Haileigh. :-)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Happy Birthday... me. No, not my birthday. This is what Emily was singing to herself yesterday morning. She turned four years old yesterday and I think she had a really nice day. We had a pizza party for her with a few of her friends, some of my family and some of our friends. Emily was showered with love and presents at her Princess Party. Here are few shots from the party.

For months, she has been asking for a pink guitar. So of course I had to get her one.

Emily also received not one, but TWO Happy Birthday phone calls all the way from New Zealand! First, Grandad called and then Auntie Claire. Unfortunately, Emily was a little two busy playing with her new toys and wasn't very chatty. Daddy and I enjoyed chatting, though. But how nice of them to think of her on her special day!

We wrapped up the day by she and I having a girls only slumber party downstairs. She told Daddy, "No boys allowed!" We dined on a hot dog (Em) and leftover pizza (me) and cheese puffs (our most favorite snack). I painted her nails (no, I did not let her do mine) and we watched Cinderella (her current favorite book and movie) twice. We both crashed at about 9pm. What a fun day!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Leaf Pile Fun

Here is what we did this afternoon!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Trick or Treat!

Here are a few photos of my little ghost and spider. Now I realize I am no Martha Stewart. But we got lots of compliments on Emily's costume and I was pleased that my daughter was one of the very few NOT in a store bought costume. Well, it was store bought I suppose--the pillow case came from Target and the sheer curtain on top and purple ribbon were from Goodwill. As I will have two kiddos to dress up now I am not sure if I can keep up the home made costumes but I'll try! There are tons of great ideas out there. We are already thinking about next year (although I'm sure Santa and Christmas will begin to consume her soon). :-)

Our day started out in the morning at Em's preschool with trick or treating. Then we went to the college and got treats from a few departments in Dad's building. After an afternoon break, we went back out around 5:30 to our church, a friend's house, to McD's for supper and then after Dad and brother pooped out, Em and I went to a few houses on our street. She was ready to finish up before I was but it was getting kind of late for her to be out anyway. In all honesty, I'm pretty sure I enjoyed dressing up and taking the kids trick or treating more than they did!